Kevin Tsujihara: A Possible Unsung Hero For Warner Bros.

The story of Warner Bros. adapting their DC properties to the big screen (as well as other media) is a long, weary, and troublesome story. However, one man is in the process of making large changes that have gone unnoticed. For years to come. That man is none other than Kevin Tsujihara.

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By MrBlackjack - 4/9/2014

With each passing year it has become more and more clear that Warner Brothers struggle to bring their DC Comics properties not only to the big screen, but to virtually all forms of media To make matters worse, just about every other major studio that owns the rights to comic characters have had success bringing their characters to life and will continue to do so. Sony has a Spider-Man centric universe planned and in action, 20th Century Fox  has an ongoing X-Men universe that is bound to crossover with their new Fantastic Four series, and of course there is Marvel Studios with their extensive Marvel Cinematic Universe that is continuing to grow larger and larger. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has had several unsuccessful attempts at a shared universe before (Green Lantern) and choose to keep the fans the dark regarding their future plans. To most this is classic Warner Bros.; sitting on their hands while other studios enjoy the success of their comic adaptations. However, one man is in the midst of changing WB. Kevin Tsujihara, the Warner Brothers CEO since March of 2013, has ushered in a new era at WB. While it's still very early on in the whole process and a too early to fully judge, Mr. Tsujihara appears to have done more for Warner Bros. and DC Comics in his first year as CEO than what WB has done in the past 5 years.

Mistakes of Warner Bros. Past

Warner Bros. are no strangers to the stench of failure and have become associated with the word "cowardliness". To get a full grasp of this failure, we must go all the way back to the horrid days of Batman & Robin. Considered to be the worst comic book movie of all time, Batman & Robin nearly killed Batman as a character, DC Comics, and the comic book movie genre. It proved that not everything Batman sold. Despite all this, Warner Bros. spent years trying to reboot Batman without giving any other character a glance. Thankfully Warner Brothers and Batman were saved by Christopher Nolan, and the Dark Knight Trilogy proved to be a game changer that gave Warner Bros. a crutch when it came to their DC adaptations and allowed them to make three separate attempts at a shared universe. Unfortunately, two of the three tempts failed. Superman Returns was originally intended to cross over with Batman Begins (although even if the film succeeded Christopher Nolan would have said no to a crossover), but failed to capture fans attention and under performed at the box office. The next attempt came with 2011's Green Lantern, which proved to be a critical and financial failure. What is most devastating about this is the fact that as time has gone on, it's been revealed that Warner Brothers had a DC Cinematic Universe planned out (similar to Marvel Studios), and a long awaited Flash film was in the wings set to follow Green Lantern. This scared Warner Brothers shitless and made them retreat to old reliable (Batman). The next attempt was 2013's Man of Steel, that proved to be a box office smash despite mixed reviews from critics and fans. Other films were put into production besides these three (such as Wonder Woman, Flash, and Lobo films), but these were the only three to actually hit theaters.

New CEO, New Warner Bros.

In March of 2013 Kevin Tsujihara was officially introduced as CEO of Warner Bros., and with that a new era at WB began. Barry Meyer (who held the CEO title before Tsujihara) and Jeff Robinov (who was instrumental to the Dark Knight Trilogy's success) were no longer in large enough roles that could prevent Warner Brothers from moving forward with adapting their DC properties. Despite a last second attempt at a Justice League movie (which is considered dead now) from the two, little movement toward adapting other heroes aside from Batman and Superman were made after Green Lantern. Meyer and Robinov were very apprehensive when it came to their DC properties after Green Lantern, and chose to scrap any plans for a shared universe after their box office bomb. A large reason as to why Man of Steel was even given the green light was due to Nolan and Goyer's involvement with the project (which gave them a sense of faith in the project). However, now that Mr. Tsujihara has taken over as CEO major changes have occurred. After intense arguments with Tsujihara in June, Robinov left Warner Bros. and eventually accepted a job at Paramount Pictures. This came as a shock to many and made people question how could Warner Brothers let the a man who helped create the Dark Knight Trilogy and brought talent like Nolan and Affleck into the picture walk away from the company. It is unfortunate how quickly and messy things ended between Robinov and Warner Bros., it may end up being the for the better. One of the most apprehensive men at WB was gone, and in effect it breathed new life into Warner Brother's DC properties. Soon after Robinov left WB, Legendary Entertainment (whom helped fun nearly nearly half of Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy) departed as well. On the outside it looked as if Warner Bros. was going to be funding all their own DC films, meaning they were going to be even more apprehensive about which properties to adapt. To many of us fans, things appeared to be a train wreck at Warner Brothers. An instrumental player in the Dark Knight Trilogy, numerous rumors of the failed Justice League project emerged (some stating that it's due out in 2020), a new CEO has taken over in the midst of a very important film (Man of Steel) release, and now a mainstay for Warner Brothers had left.

However, over the course of the next few months things appeared to be turning around for WB. Legendary Entertainment was quickly replaced with Dune Entertainment, which gave fans a sigh of relief. And what's been revealed from comments by the likes of Zack Snyder, Kevin Tsujihara, and oddly enough Batman vs Superman's costume designer Michael Wilkinson, is the fact that Batman vs Superman has was something that was part of Tsujihara's plan. People like Robinov went on record stating that he expected Man of Steel to gross over a billion dollars, and with Batman vs Superman announced as the follow up to Man of Steel it appeared as if it was only in development because Man of Steel "under performed" and was a last second decision as well. Notwithstanding, it's been revealed that Batman vs Superman started development in May (a time when Tsujihara was CEO), which was a full month before Man of Steel's release, meaning that Man of Steel's box office gross had no say in what came after Man of Steel. It should also be noted that sometime between April and May, the rumors of a Justice League film written by Will Beall were dead. What does this all mean? It means Tsujihara cleaned the house; he dropped the project that Robinov and Meyer started and went with his own plan that would help set up a shared universe. Batman vs Superman is not a product of Man of Steel's gross, but Tsujihara's word. That is a HUGE step in the right direction. Tsujihara took control and had a plan as CEO that he wanted to implement his plan as soon as possible. He hasn't stopped there, for that is just the beginning.

In just two months Tsujihara made a move more ambitious than anything Warner Brothers had tried in nearly ten years. Tsujihara has promised us fans that large new changes over the coming months and years, and some of the changes have already shown. In September Tsujihara stated "Female centric kind of pictures, that they have been really successful and obviously the Tolkien kind of franchise with the hobbit is kind of a signature piece of new one. Then you have 12 to 14 pictures coming from Warner Bros. And I think the basis, foundation of those 12 to 14 pictures are going to be coming from DC Entertainment. We have Batman versus Superman coming out in ’15, but those are going to be in the coming months a lot of announcements regarding kind of the future movie, television, games and consumer product pieces that are going to be coming from DC.", and those words are becoming more and more true with each passing day. On the animation front, a new DC animated universe is in development by Bruce Timm at the helm. While not much is known about it right now, it is expected to coincide with upcoming DC Comics adaptations, and appears to another Tsujihara move. In the realm of gaming, WB/DC released Batman: Arkham Origins last fall and have Batman: Arkham Knight launching this fall (which is rumored to feature Superman), with a handful of rumors stating that the next major heroes in line for an adaptation being Superman or the Justice League. Television adaptations have seen the most movement, as Warner Bros. will soon have Arrow, Flash, Constantine, iZombie, Young Justice, Hourman, and The Avenger coming from the CW. And finally, the area which concerns yet intrigues fans the most, Warner Bros. film adaptations. Most of the hints dropped have been cryptic, but there a couple of very important things we do know. First off, Batman vs Superman will not only open up a shared universe between Batman and Superman, but will also introduce Wonder Woman to the big screen. It should also be noted that Gal Gadot is signed on for three films. Those films include Batman vs Superman, Justice League, & a solo Wonder Woman film, meaning WB very well may have intentions of a solo Wonder Woman film in the near future. Going hand and hand with this, Guillermo del Toro has stated that Warner Brothers have been making plans for their entire film universe, as well as a plan for their television properties. The next piece of information is interesting (but fits with the rest of everything else that has been revealed) is Warner Brothers are planning on releasing two small budget films a year that would focus on their smaller heroes along with their main heroes. Suicide Squad, Booster Gold, Deathstroke, Sandman (which has been confirmed), and Team 7 are specifically mentioned as properties that WB may look to adapt with small budgets. But that's not all; Warner Bros. are going to announce a series of films in the near future, with Justice League expected to be one of the films a part of films announcement. All this has come under Tsujihara's rule and only came within a few months of being CEO.


Looking to the Future

That is an astonishing amount of information (for WB at least) that has come out in future months and shows Tsujihara along with WB are actively trying to bring their properties not only to the big screen, but to all forms of media. What's wonderful about this is the fact that it's only been one year since Tsujihara, and this has been the most Warner Brothers has done in years. As time goes on, more and more information will be revealed. However it is important to know that not all of this may follow through and it may be too soon to get a clear judgment.  Everything is subject to change, and this may all be yet another disaster from WB. Yet at the same time you must try to remain optimistic and understand that this is a new WB. In the past, Warner Bros. have "talked the talk" but never "walked the walk", but in the recent months they have  "walked the walk". Tsujihara promised us new television shows and we got them, he promised us new games and we got them in Arkham Origins, Arkham Knight, and Infinite Crisis, and he promised us new films and...nothing yet. We are in the long and painful transition period and will likely remain there until this summer, but at least we know they are coming. With Tsujihara as CEO, we would not have any of this; we would have another close off Batman reboot and a condensed Man of Steel trilogy, and nothing more. Depending on how these next few months (or possibly years) proceed, we could very well be looking at the savior of DC Comics adaptations or the man who failed us yet again. Only time will time will tell what category he falls into.
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H3LLBLAZER - 4/9/2014, 12:36 PM
The future is Justice
cipher - 4/9/2014, 12:52 PM
Thumbs up, BlackJack. You're puttin' in work today.
cipher - 4/9/2014, 12:55 PM
I've just been sitting here.. watching that gif of the morphing logo for the past, I dunno.. two minutes, or so. I'm not sure if it's some form of hypnotism, or just the sleep-deprivation kickin' in.
Klone - 4/9/2014, 12:59 PM
A lot of effort clearly went into this.
Gusto - 4/9/2014, 1:02 PM
Nubase - 4/9/2014, 1:05 PM
its been a long time coming but WB/DC have finally got thier act together, of course they are last in line as its only the beginning with the bats/supes/WW movie coming out in 2015 with spidey, x men/FF and the already established marvel universe way ahead but now we know DC are gona have their universe and its gona be exicting to see them on screen
Gusto - 4/9/2014, 1:08 PM
Somebody should do an article
about how I'm the unsung hero
of being sexy.
Jordanstine - 4/9/2014, 1:12 PM
TheAbaryMan369 - 4/9/2014, 1:18 PM
Phenomenal
Gusto - 4/9/2014, 1:22 PM
LMFAO! You bastard!
Highflyer - 4/9/2014, 1:35 PM
Great write up.
Starfox - 4/9/2014, 1:38 PM
Way to go BlackJack!


dethpillow - 4/9/2014, 1:47 PM
i don't know. it sounds like you're really trying to construct some kind of narrative that doesn't necessarily exist, and also that doesn't need to exist. I think WB should've just gone straight into MOS 2. Everyone was excited about the first one, it made a bunch of money, why not just roll right into the sequel? Superman 2? Snyder seemed excited about it, he even said a week before MOS opened, yeah, we're rolling right into MOS 2, i love this. why did Batman get involved with things?

maybe this is what you're saying is remnants of old WB, but I don't really follow your whole history laid out here, and also, it's just completely based on you saying "well, listen up, this is the way it all went down...it was a dark and stormy night... and WB was a big mess, it was ugly, i tell ya, it was gruesome, they were a real mess, for sure they were. but then imagine what happened next, i tell ya..."

u know? fine. but how is anyone supposed to take that seriously?

I'm not even saying that WB is doing a bad job, i think it was really smart to iron things out between Affleck and Goyer, and I'm happy to see the way it seems to have turned out. I think WB does have a plan. just like they always have. it's just not their primary deal, and maybe this guy recognizes it as being more important. So I'm really not even arguing with what you're saying.

But what you're saying doesn't really make any sense. Except as far as... this guy, Tsujihara, is a good thing. hell yeah, he's a good thing. but why do we need some kind of narrative about how WB has emerged from the wretched swamp they used to be in? they really didn't seem like they were doing all that bad in the first place. what does that gain for u to frame things like that? and that's where my problem is with articles like this, cuz it's a baseless narrative and it's just trying to sell the future in some pretty package. and i don't think it's paying attention to reality very much. I think it's a plea for perception, and like most similar pleas, it's just a short con on the supposed future.

and now i'm gonna have to go post on that Rothman article, cuz it's doing the same thing, but 50 times more obviously than this one is.

i don't mean to be a grump. i really don't. cuz actually, at the end of the day, i think we both share the same optimism about what WB/DC is doing with their stuff now. i just resent bullshit like this, and this plus the Rothman article is just too much to keep my mouth shut.

so god bless u, and god bless WB/DC, for real. but jeez... we don't need fake ass histories like this. it reminds me of my drunk aunts telling me stories about my mom. that's what it reminds me of.
Indy - 4/9/2014, 1:50 PM
very interesting. Good job MrBlackJack.
dethpillow - 4/9/2014, 2:00 PM
and how can you say that Green Lantern and Superman Returns were attempts at crossing over? if they were attempts at crossing over, you would think that they would attempt to crossover... u know?


and that actually serves your point even more.

cuz i get what you're saying that this guy is making decisions on more than just bottom line quarterly profit reporting. and that's great, i totally agree with that. it's just the narrative you're presenting is wacky.

i think i would like the article a lot more if it was just about how good the guy was instead of telling the torrid tale. u know what i mean?
Batman52 - 4/9/2014, 2:03 PM
My homeboy Obama approves your article BlackJack Nice work.

Minty - 4/9/2014, 2:06 PM
Really well written article, but it's a bit quick to be praising Tsujihara at the moment isnt it? Dont get me wrong, Im sure he's got plans and Im really glad Robinov is gone but as of right now DC havent announced too many good things.

That said, Im sure at SDCC or some point this year that'll change. If he follows up on the potential Im sure he can bring DC/WB back into serious contention with Marvel
MrSotoMan - 4/9/2014, 2:10 PM
Great article as always!
dethpillow - 4/9/2014, 2:18 PM
and kind of also... i guess it's kind of a diss on people who've actually been working on this stuff for a long time.

u say that he brings u videogames. haha. well, what the hell? like videogames wouldn't exist without him? and u say like Superman is rumored to be in the upcoming Arkham game... well jeez, what about the people that have been working on those games for years?
and it seems like you're saying that Barry Meyer and Jeff Robinov were trying to prevent WB from moving forward on DC movies. everything you're saying about Robinov, whether it's true or not, why should anyone believe u about this?
i don't know shit about these guys, why should i believe that this guy is some kind of villain, who just lives to make sure that DC movies aren't made? i don't buy it, u need to give some kind of evidence as to how you came around to this belief, cuz it's contrary to what anyone would think.

what about Zak Snyder and Goyer who made MOS? aren't they part of this shared universe, didn't this start before this Tsujihara came into his position? yeah, it did. i'm not saying he's not important, but to act like he's some kind of dude that is gonna make everything perfect, is sort of silly.
why would we think that yet? there's nothing in this article to make us think that. and u quote like the worst possible thing the guy probably ever said, cuz that whole quote, makes no goddam sense, about the female hobbit attraction and stuff. what the hell is he talking about? that can't be the most coherent thing the guy's ever said. i understand there's probably an issue with translation, but even still... don't quote him saying that. for [frick]'s sake. i'm sure he's got to have said something that makes more sense than that. haha. that's all i'm saying. and god bless u MrBlackJack, cuz i'm seriously not trying to be a grump or a grinch or anything. but goddam.
just make more sense cuz your heart's in the right place, i can tell.
soforizo - 4/9/2014, 2:24 PM
Good article MrBlack!
soforizo - 4/9/2014, 2:32 PM
@dethpillow

Many of articles of this kind have a narrative to sell. Did you read the NYTimes article on Tsujihara? Same concept pretty much. Black lacks the cred to sell him knowing some of this stuff, but it's still a nice read (at least for me), because some of it matches other stuff I've read or heard elsewhere.
MrSotoMan - 4/9/2014, 2:36 PM
i just resent bullshit like this, and this plus the Rothman article is just too much to keep my mouth shut.

I would LOVE to hear what you gotta say about that article.
Forthas - 4/9/2014, 2:38 PM
Moving away from the universe that Christopher Nolan created is the single dumbest decision Warner Brothers made and Kevin Tsujihara was in a position to not have that happen. I don't care how many promises Kevin Tsujihara has kept, that does not translate into quality films. To make the claim that he is an unsung hero ignores the glaring fact that Warner Brothers was handed on a silver platter the greatest CBM both critically and commercially in history to anchor their shared universe, and rather than capitalize on that they have squandered it and made Marvel look like geniuses when they are not. Here is how that ONE bad decision has snowballed and caused the ever increasing drumbeat of criticism of the studio. If they had kept with that universe then:

1) It would mean that the DC shared universe would technically predate Marvel's universe since Batman Begins (2005) came out before Iron Man (2008) and short circuit the notion that Marvel is more forward thinking;

2) WB could have capitalize on their more talented cast and focus on more character driven stories (the very thing that differentiated them from Marvel) since the universe of the Dark Knight (and the added Man of Steel) has had more acclaimed actors. This would have avoided the circus surrounding the recasting of Christian Bale (one of the best and most sought after actors in the industry)- not to mention the fact that Christian Bale and Amy Adams have a well-known history starring opposite each other which could have been played up when “Bruce Wayne encounters Lois Lane;”

3) DC could have already had four "heroes" (Batman, Superman, Catwoman, and Robin/Nightwing) with formed or pseudo-formed backstories that an audience was ALREADY exposed to and that have ALREADY been accepted by the public as opposed to only one (Superman) established character. It is a waste of time, unnecessary energy and resources to essentially start from scratch and go through the process of casting people in the hopes that their characters are acceptable to the general public.

4) Instead of starting from one (critically shaky) film in their shared universe they would be now working on their fifth movie. Like Iron Man did for Marvel, the Dark Knight films (which collectively received more critical acclaim and more financial success that the Iron Man films) would have anchored the shared universe and helped to propel it forward. The end of the Dark Knight Rises lends itself perfectly to the reported themes of the Superman/Batman movie - an experienced Batman who comes out of retirement to address a global threat.

5) The departure of Christopher Nolan and the creation of a shared universe could have given the studio an opportunity to help develop up and coming directors (like a Christopher Nolan) in house that have a solid if not extensive track record for delivering quality movies. Directors such as Tomas Alfredson, Alfonso Cuarón, Cary Fukunaga, Jonathan Levine, Sean Durkin, and Duncan Jones have in common that they have made only one or less movies that have been critically panned in their careers. This is a missed opportunity by having one (dubious) director and (questionable) writer in charge of moving the universe forward.

I don’t see how Kevin Tsujihara can be called a hero when he continues to allow this bad decision to fester with now Marvel brazenly challenging WB’s top tier DC characters with its b-list superheroes. The only people who should see Kevin Tsujihara as a hero is Disney/Marvel.
0megaDaGod - 4/9/2014, 2:38 PM
@dethpillow



Damn that was harsh
MrSotoMan - 4/9/2014, 2:38 PM
@soforizo- Almost pretty much every good article has a narrative standpoint. Then again it's kind of difficult to criticize someone for their lack of coherence when thus said comment is lacking coherent criticism to begin with.

But meh what do I know.
Minty - 4/9/2014, 2:39 PM
@MrBlackJack - Fair enough, I like that you have faith instead of whining or aiming shots at WB. It's a great article btw, and yeah hopefully good things are on the horizon for DC
McNyagano - 4/9/2014, 2:44 PM
@dethpillow

0megaDaGod - 4/9/2014, 2:50 PM
Also, this is a good read, but I wouldn't call this guy an unsung hero when he's about to preside over the longest drought of DC movies since the time between Batman Begins and TDK. Getting a bunch of CW pilots ordered is good shit, but aside from that all he's done is claim he's gonna do stuff and be in office while rumors of stuff happening have been put out, which isn't much different from anyone who's been running WB
dethpillow - 4/9/2014, 2:56 PM
@Soto - i actually agree totally with the conclusions of your article, this one too, actually. and i felt obliged to leave a comment on your article, even tho i didn't want to. only cuz i went ahead and opened my stupid mouth about this one.

so there. but u guys are both right, that's what pains me about it... is these two guys are actually great for comic book movies. i just have to disagree with the way things are being laid out here. i think it's false.
i talk in stories too. half the time, i do.

@soforizo - yeah, that's a really good point. and any editorial is gonna have a narrative of some sort to it. but i just feel like there's too overt and hamfisted of a narrative about these two articles. everything we do as people involves a narrative, and you're right, i singled that out wrong. cuz that's what separates us from animals. besides shame. and that's actually probably got to do with narrative also. so yeah, you're right and i should've been more specific about that. right on.
dethpillow - 4/9/2014, 2:58 PM
@MrBlackJack - end of day tho... totally right on, Tsujihara is good news for WB/DC and i totally think that's your point here, and i totally agree. just like new Fox guy, is actually really great news for comic book movies and Fox.

so i just wanna say that yeah... you're right and i totally agree with your point. not that it matters. i wanna stick a big bagel in my stupid goddam mouth right now. but time enough for that... when i'm hungry. :)
McNyagano - 4/9/2014, 2:59 PM
I gotta agree with Omega here. Great write up though.
MrSotoMan - 4/9/2014, 3:03 PM
@dethpillow- Nothing of what I posted is false, and neither did BlackJack, if you friend him you can see he looked up dozens of articles on this site to try to back up his claim.

To me your criticism just seems to go as far as agreeing, but then disagreeing, to applauding his effort, to even saying that he has no idea what he is talking about, but applaud the effort, but then go back to criticizing it just cuz.
soforizo - 4/9/2014, 3:04 PM
MrSotoMan - 4/9/2014, 2:38 PM
@soforizo- Almost pretty much every good article has a narrative standpoint.
---

@MrSotoMan

Is that much different from what I wrote: "Many of articles of this kind have a narrative to sell."?
DeathstrokeTerminator - 4/9/2014, 3:06 PM
If future DC film plans are revealed at Comic Con, then yes he is a hero, so we'll have to see until then.
earzmundo - 4/9/2014, 3:07 PM
I'm a DC fan but...are you their PR rep?

[frick] off and get on the ball to make TWS-like quality. [frick]in DC...playing
MrSotoMan - 4/9/2014, 3:07 PM
@soforizo- I just wanted my two cents in.

Overall I do feel this is a good article.

BUT

Even though I think this CEO could change things due to Barry Meyer not in no more, not Robinov, I think it would take 5 years before I can see he did a great job.

Rumors of Robinov circulated that he was having trouble in the office, where Robinov was forced out due to the fact he lost out when winning the role of becoming CEO of WB, which he thought he would get. He didn't, felt screwed and left.
Dandy - 4/9/2014, 3:08 PM
Great write up.....but this may be a case of counting your hens before they have hatched.


I personally was not a fan of Man of Steel and they haven't released a movie since.......so it's hard to call anyone a "hero" when there has yet to be a success.
soforizo - 4/9/2014, 3:09 PM
@dethpillow

I grant you there's lots of speculation here and storytelling, but this seems to me like an opinion versus a statement of facts.

I'm yet sold on Tsujihara myself, but I find these pieces interesting, even though I don't agree with everything in them, even perceiving some of them as highly speculative or at times revisionist.
MrSotoMan - 4/9/2014, 3:10 PM
See what I mean BlackJack? I think it is a great article, and I feel this is more of a congratulations Ken Tsujihara, I believe in you type of article, but like you I do have a good feeling about him, but he's gotta prove it to shareholders that he could deliver the DC universe to kind of put his footing into the box office gross of shared universes.

Like I said, great article.
soforizo - 4/9/2014, 3:11 PM
@MrSotoMan

I do feel the CEO thing had a lot of weight to it. It's speculation nonetheless, but I find it logical.
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